In the past, Sonos has offered two configurations of its multiple-room Digital Music System--the original ZonePlayer 100 Bundle, and the more recent ZonePlayer 80 Bundle. The built-in amplifier on the ZP100 meant that you needed only to add speakers, while the ampless ZP80 was designed to plug into a nearby stereo system, AV receiver, or boom box. As of today, the company is splitting the difference. The new BU130 bundle includes one ZP100, one ZP80, and--the key ingredient--the company's unique CR100 wireless remote, which offers complete control of the two-room system with its iPod-like scroll wheel and color LCD … Read more
On our weekly Real Deal podcast today, Tom and I discussed lifecasting (e.g., Justin.tv) and the live streaming tools ordinary people (as opposed to 24/7 exhibitionists) can use to broadcast their own cams in real time: uStream, Stickam, ComVu (review), and Veodia (review).
Here's the show:
Our discussion wouldn't be complete without a live demo of streaming, so Tom and I both streamed ourselves during the taping, using uStream. We had some problems (most related to the ancient laptop I used to record the show, I think), but I grabbed a recording of the stream. … Read more
I got to take a sneak peak at a new video broadcasting service that opened its doors to a select few this morning. Mogulus is a live video broadcasting service the likes of uStream.tv, but with a twist: Multiple people can work on live video feeds at the same time. Each user can create their own branded channel, and fill it up with video content either from their hard drives or pulled in from YouTube. Each contributor can also command the broadcast using their Web cam, complete with customizable over-the-shoulder graphic overlays and a scrolling CNN-style news ticker. The result is a live blogging experience that's visually stimulating to the viewer, and completely customizable for the amateur content producer.
Mogulus is giving its producers two ways to share content--either embedding the live feed, or linking to their own custom URL. All public channels go into a listing for live feeds a la Kyte.tv, so casual users looking to tune into things that are live or interesting will be able to browse through and find something they like.
Managing broadcasts in Mogulus is handled completely inside of a Flash-based application. Content is clumped together in small management units called "storyboards," which can be inserted into any broadcast almost like video playlists. Producers queue up content, mix and match the order of video clips, and can break in at any time to broadcast live from their Web cam. Power users have a lot to play with, as it actually feels like a professional video-editing app with a ton of options for tweaking and fine-tuning.
Mogulus plans to roll out its service with two models, one free and one paid. The free version requires inserting a short advertisement for every 10 minutes of broadcasting, while the pro version lets producers go ad-free in exchange for paying a fee for every gigabyte of bandwidth transferred. My hunch is that many casual users will be OK with the advertisement model, with what Mogulus is tentatively planning to keep at around 10 seconds per ad.
More on Mogulus as it leaves private beta. Until then you can sign up and check out an explanatory video here. More screenshots of the interface after the jump.
Scott Guthrie, GM of platform development at Microsoft, gave a talk targeted at developers here at the Mix 07 conference (which is, frankly, all targeted at developers). Here's the takeaway from his talk for Web users: HD-quality streaming video, as well as "DVD-like interactivity and overlays."
The vast choice of mobile phone accessories gives Crave a pounding headache. We rarely find something genuinely worth spending our hard-earned cash on. "Yet again, mobile phone companies are trying to sell us stuff we don't need," we think to our amalgamated Borg-self. But Sony Ericsson's MBR-100 might just change our mind(s).
This little electro-lozenge enables you to wirelessly blast tunes stored on your mobile phone through your hi-fi system or PC. A refreshing change from music screeching out of annoyingly crap 0.01W mobile phone loudspeakers, perhaps?
The MBR-100 is simple to connect. After … Read more
Sony's network audio streamer should be hitting store shelves soon. First unveiled at the January Consumer Electronics Show--and no stranger to Crave--the VGF-WA1 is the baby of Sony's VAIO PC division, not the consumer electronics side of the company. While we've seen similar Wi-Fi boom boxes in the past--the Roku SoundBridge Radio comes to mind--the VGF-WA1 is the first I've seen with a rechargeable battery, so you can go truly wireless (for up to 4 hours, according to Sony). In addition to streaming a variety of audio files (MP3, AAC, WAV, and, of course, Sony'… Read more
Back in 2005, CNET reviewed Orb, a software package that promised to let users access media files located on their home PC and stream them to any other broadband-connected computer and even some mobile devices. Orb scored a 7.0--"very good"--and that was that--except that Orb has offered some pretty compelling upgrades in the meantime.
Since our original review, the company has rolled out Orb 2.0 (fall 2006), which is essentially a Web 2.0 version of the product. You still run a small server applet on your home PC that catalogs and streams your media files--video, audio, and photos--but you can now access all of these files via a single Web page (available at mycast.orb.com). It's a user-customizable, AJAX-based page that's similar to the personalized home page that you can make at Google, Yahoo, Live.com, and elsewhere. In addition to keeping links to your home PC media files (or any other documents you choose to make accessible), Orb 2.0 lets you add pretty much any RSS-based resource from the Web. In addition to a variety of pre-fab options available (news, weather, sports, stock quotes, and the like), I was able to add several blog and news feeds, plus an array of my friends' Flickr, Twitter, and Jaiku feeds. In other words, you're able to mix your own "local" media with pretty much anything you can find online. Orb even supports Google Gadgets; I was able to include a Google Maps applet and even a decent game of Pac-Man.
Kudos to Laptop magazine for getting the scoop, with the one of the first hands-on reviews we've seen of the Netgear EVA8000 Digital Entertainer HD. There's just one problem: they got one big detail of the product dead wrong. The Netgear product does play songs purchased from the iTunes Store, as confirmed by hands-on tests in the CNET Labs.
We purchased and played two songs from the store, and were surprised to see that the Netgear was able to stream them to the TV/stereo system in the next room just as easily as it could with DRM-free … Read more
It's the digital equivalent of the first few cracks in the Berlin Wall: soon EMI will be offering the bulk of its music catalog free of DRM restrictions. Steve Jobs was on hand at the press conference to enthusiastically endorse the idea--he did, famously, suggest as much in an open letter just a few short weeks ago. But is Apple simply fashioning its own hangman's noose? If the other major record companies follow suit, the one big advantage of the entire Apple "digital ecosystem"--iTunes, the iPod, and Apple TV--essentially becomes null and void. Jobs says Apple's superior design will keep the company's software and hardware at the top of the must-have list for digital media. For the iPod, maybe--but for the just-launched Apple TV, the answer isn't as straightforward. … Read more
Among the networks, ABC.com has been one of the most aggressive in terms of streaming full versions of its shows online after they've aired on TV. During those quieter moments at work--some call them smoking breaks without the smoking--you can watch episodes of Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty, and more, right on your computer screen. Until a few days ago, however, the picture was rather small. Now ABC.com has launched a new full-screen "HD-quality" video player, and the "broadcast" looks shockingly good.
Meanwhile, NBC also has spruced up its online video player, … Read more